The study of English, from the child's first smudged comma to ‘Marlowe's mighty line’ is about the production and discriminating consumption of meaning. Language is the defining activity of the human race, and while everyone is involved in using it with various degrees of care, it is in their English classes that pupils are called upon to refine and develop their own, and to decipher with increasing sophistication the language of others.
Pupils are encouraged and required to read and write a lot, and we aim to select books which will interest at the same time as stretching them. While we pay careful attention to the demands of the National Curriculum, we use it as a springboard rather than a constraint. Members of the Department have distinctive enthusiasms and a wide variety of expertise which enables them to be creative and to promote creativity in turn without any irritable reaching after the security of centrally produced syllabuses.
That said, all pupils take English Language and the vast majority English Literature at GCSE. Rugby uses the Edexcel International GCSE because it allows more time for individual teachers to choose material to suit the needs of the classes they teach, and reduces the burden of coursework without lowering academic standards.
Rugby is distinctive among most independent schools in that we offer English Language as well as English Literature at A level. English Language allows pupils to consider uses of language apart from literature, and concentrates on journalistic writing and the analysis of spoken English. It is becoming an increasingly popular university course, and is often taken by those specialising in the sciences who understand the importance of communication in contemporary society.
The central theme of the A level Literature course is the enjoyment of reading for its own sake, rather than the art of passing examinations. In turn, discussion, argument and analysis of literary texts are part of a creative process by which we reformulate our own understanding through works which put our assumptions about the world into question. We would like to think that our excellent record of results in both A level courses is the expression of a genuine enjoyment of academic study.
Those who, because of education abroad or learning difficulty, require extra help with English have a well resourced and sympathetically managed Learning Development Department on call, which is closely linked to the English Department. All pupils entering the School at F Block are screened for learning difficulties, and staff are aware of changes in teaching strategy that those with learning difficulties require.
Improbable as it may seem at first glance, Rugby is at the centre of a vibrant Midland theatrical culture, and pupils frequently visit theatres in the surrounding towns - chief, but by no means the only of these, being the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford upon Avon.
Significant writers and academics are invited to meet and talk to pupils (some of the more recent of these are featured in the picture gallery). Rugby has a considerable tradition of school journalism, and pupils are encouraged to develop their talents, and to follow in the footsteps of the extraordinary number of distinguished writers to have attended the School.
Read our collection of pieces written by our students: